The Murphy Administration is known for doubling-down on bad “science,” but here’s a notable exception:
We’ve learned that the New Jersey Fish and Game Council has decided to permit the Garden State’s bear hunt to go ahead until 2028. State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette will need to sign off, but the council’s decision follows Phil Murphy’s surprise decision to relent and let the hunt resume in December. “It is clear that New Jersey’s black bear population is growing significantly, and non-lethal bear-management strategies alone are not enough to mitigate this trend,” Murphy explained at the time. “We must responsibly adapt to the population with carefully regulated and strict bear population-management strategies to ensure our communities and families are protected from the growing black bear population.”
Murphy’s rare moment of common sense is already paying off. N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) data reflects that bear sightings and encounters are down by almost one-third year-to-date for 2023 relative to 2022.
“Bears have no natural predators, and without hunting, the number of bears could continue to multiply unchecked,” reacted Assemblyman and presumptive State Senator Parker Space (R-24). “This was the right call by the Fish and Game Council—they took this issue seriously, studied the data, and made the right decision.”
New Jersey is the nation’s most densely populated state, and with an estimated 5,000 bears, the state also boasts the densest black bear population. Black bears will wander in search of food, and increasing numbers are forcing them to search closer to homes, leading to more contact with people.
“When hunting was banned, we saw a significant rise in bear sightings, property damage, crop damage, animal/human interactions and even cases of pets being hurt or killed,” added Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-24). “The wildlife scientists know best in these matters and I trust they will be instrumental in designing a sustainable bear management policy for the foreseeable future.”
New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the United States, is home to an estimated population of 5,000 black bears.